The Beach School

The Beach School

Infobox School
name = The Beach School

imagesize = 250px
caption = The main building
established = 2003
closed = 2008
grades = JK-12 (ungraded, ages 4+)
campus type = urban
free_label = Philosophy
free_text = Sudbury
free_label2 = Governance
free_text2 = School Meeting (democratic, vote by students and staff)
location = 42 Edgewood Avenue
Toronto, ON
country = Canada
website = []

The Beach School was a democratic free school in Toronto based on the Sudbury principles of education; The model had two basic tenets: educational freedom and democratic governance. Small and independent, The Beach School was a community of self-motivated learners aged 4-19 who determine their own curriculum, and each have an equal voice in school governance. Located at 42 Edgewood Ave near Kingston Road and Dundas Street East, the school opened in the fall of 2003 and closed in June 2008 because of a shortage of students. The Beach School was incorporated as a co-operative and at the time of closing was one of two Sudbury schools in Canada; the only one in Ontario. Following the closure of the Beach School at the end of the 2007/2008 school year, the facilities and legal structures were passed to a small group of parents, who intend to open The New School House with a different philosophy in September 2008.


Modelled after the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts which opened in 1968 and has inspired many similar schools worldwide, The Beach School community believes that learning which is initiated and pursued by the learner happens naturally, meaningfully, and enduringly. As such, there is no set curriculum; instead there is individual curiosity and self-initiation direct learning. Beach School students are trusted with their own education and are free to draw from the school’s resources as much or as little as they see fit. The Beach School encourages self-evaluation; there are no grades, tests, or assignments unless desired. This educational approach is based on the Sudbury belief that everyone is instinctively curious; therefore when trusted to do so, they will discover independently the knowledge and experiences they need, becoming self-aware and resourceful in the process.


Students decided for themselves what a meaningful use of their time was. Each day at The Beach School was a unique combination of formal and informal activities, including classes, books, video- and computer-games, unstructured play, meetings, debates, tree-climbing, pillow fort-building, paperwork, and cooking. Some people participated in most of these activities; some spent their whole day on one.

A free drop-in program entitled ‘Parent and Tot’ operated at the school on Friday mornings from 9:30am -11:30 am for children aged 5 and under and their guardians.

The Beach School had been an annual participant in the Beaches Easter parade and they have hosted an annual school play.


All members of the school community, both staff and students, were equally responsible for the daily affairs of the school.

chool Meeting

Decisions on rules and policies, staffing, use of resources, program opportunities, discipline, budgeting, and other communications were made at the weekly School Meeting, which every student and staff member may attend to debate and vote on current issues.

Judicial Committee

Students and staff took turns serving on the Judicial Committee or JC, a group that met daily to formally review complaints about behaviour, and help those involved find solutions.


Parents, staff, and students participated in the operation of the school as automatic members of the school assembly, which meets at least twice a year to discuss issues of overall policy involving school by-laws and finances. People who were not already directly involved in the school could be elected as public assembly members.

Board of Directors

The directors were elected by the Assembly and acted as occasional advisors to the School Meeting.


Because the Ontario Ministry of Education does not fund independent schools, The Beach School charged tuition in order to fund the basic operations of the school. The decision on what amount to charge was made each year by the Assembly. The Beach School was recognized by the Children’s First Foundation through the Fraser Institute, which provides grants for education to disadvantaged families.

ee also

*Sudbury model
*Sudbury Valley School
*List of Sudbury schools
*Democratic school
*Education reform
*Free school
*Montessori method



External links

* [ The Beach School official website]
* [ Sudbury Valley School official website]
* [ List of Sudbury Schools worldwide]
* [ The Ontario Cooperative Association]
* [ The Sudbury Model]
* [ Indigo Sudbury School]
* [ Montessori method]
* [ Waldorf Education]
* [ Free Schooling]
* [ John Taylor Gatto]
* [ The Fraser Institute]
* [ Daniel Greenberg]

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